No comment from Pakistan as Afghanistan says eight killed in airstrikes in Khost, Paktika provinces

Update No comment from Pakistan as Afghanistan says eight killed in airstrikes in Khost, Paktika provinces
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid speaks during a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan on May 7, 2022. (AFP/File)
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Updated 18 March 2024
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No comment from Pakistan as Afghanistan says eight killed in airstrikes in Khost, Paktika provinces

No comment from Pakistan as Afghanistan says eight killed in airstrikes in Khost, Paktika provinces
  • Airstrikes come two days after seven Pakistani soldiers killed in bombing in northwestern region bordering Afghanistan
  • Rising attacks have damaged ties between Pakistan and Afghan Taliban, who deny Afghanistan soil used by militants

PESHAWAR: A spokesperson for Afghanistan’s Taliban government said on Monday Pakistan had carried out airstrikes in the country’s Khost and Paktika provinces early in the morning, killing five women and three children, with no immediate comment available from Pakistan’s military or government. 

The airstrikes, the sharpest escalation in already deteriorating ties between the neighbors, came two days after a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden truck into a military post in northwest Pakistan, killing seven soldiers. The Pakistan army, defense minister and president vowed retaliation in separate statements. 

Pakistani government and security officials say militant attacks have risen in recent months, many of them claimed by the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). Islamabad says most assaults are launched from neighboring Afghan soil, an accusation that has damaged the relationship between Pakistan and the ruling Afghan Taliban, who deny they have allowed Afghan territory to be used by militants.

“Last night at around 3 o’clock in the Barmal district of Paktika province and in Afghan Dubai area of Sepera district of Khost province, Pakistani planes bombed the houses of civilians,” a spokesman for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, wrote on X. 

“As a result, 6 people including 3 women and 3 children were martyred and a house destroyed in Paktika, as well as, two women were martyred due to the collapse of a house in Khost province.”

The Afghan government condemned the attacks and called them a “reckless” violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty. 

“The people of Pakistan and the new government should stop some army generals from continuing their wrong policies … and spoiling the relationship between the two neighboring Muslim nations,” the statement added. 

“Pakistan should not blame Afghanistan for the lack of control, incompetence and problems in its own territory.”

The spokesman warned that the air strikes could have “bad consequences which will be out of Pakistan’s control.”

In a separate statement on social media platform X, Afghanistan’s defense ministry said its border forces had responded to Pakistan’s airstrikes. 

“In response to this aggression, the border forces of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan targeted Pakistan’s military centers along the fictitious line with heavy weapons,” the statement said. 

“The country’s defense and security forces are ready to respond to any aggressive actions and will defend their territorial integrity in any situation.”

Saturday’s attack on the military post was claimed by a newly formed militant group, Jaish-e-Fursan-e-Muhammad. However, Pakistani security officials believed the group mainly comprises members of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, which often targets Pakistani soldiers and police. 

Pakistan Army’s media wing said security forces conducted an intelligence-based operation in the restive North Waziristan district on Sunday night in which eight “terrorists,” including a high-value commander Sehra Janan, were killed.

“He was involved in orchestrating the terrorist attack on security forces’ post in Mir Ali on 16 March and was highly wanted by the law enforcement agencies,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on Monday. 

It added that sanitization operations are being conducted in the area to eliminate any other “terrorists.”

The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group but are allies of the Afghanistan Taliban, who seized power in Afghanistan in 2021 as the US and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout. The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has emboldened TTP, Pakistan says, whose top leaders and fighters are hiding in Afghanistan.

“Terrorism is being conducted mostly from Afghanistan against us,” Pakistani defense minister Khawaja Asif told reporters in Pakistan’s eastern city of Sialkot on Sunday, saying militants were operating from sanctuaries in Afghanistan. 

“We have also raised this issue with Afghanistan.”

Pakistan’s new government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is faced with dealing with fraying ties with three of Pakistan’s four neighbors, India, Iran and Afghanistan.


Bodies of Pakistanis killed in Muscat mosque attack to be brought back today

Bodies of Pakistanis killed in Muscat mosque attack to be brought back today
Updated 31 sec ago
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Bodies of Pakistanis killed in Muscat mosque attack to be brought back today

Bodies of Pakistanis killed in Muscat mosque attack to be brought back today
  • Four Pakistani nationals were among six killed when gunmen opened fire at Shia Mosque in Oman this week
  • All four Pakistani nationals to be brought back to the country today via Pakistan International Airlines’ flights

KARACHI: The bodies of four Pakistani nationals killed in a mosque attack on Muscat this week will be brought back to the country today, Thursday, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) spokesperson confirmed. 
Six people were killed when three gunmen, all brothers and of Omani nationality, opened fire on people in a Shia Muslim mosque in Muscat on Monday evening. 
The six people killed by the gunmen were four Pakistani nationals, an Indian, and a police officer responding to the attack, which militant group Daesh later claimed responsibility for. Pakistan described the assault as a “terror attack” while Oman police said the gunmen were “influenced by misguided ideas.”
“The bodies of the Pakistanis martyred in the Muscat attack will arrive in Pakistan today via PIA flights,” a spokesperson of the airline said in a statement. 
It said Sulaiman Nawaz’s body will reach Lahore via PIA flight PK 230 at 5:00 p.m. while Syed Qaiser Abbas Bukhari’s body will be brought back to the country via PIA flight PK226 from Muscat to Karachi. From there, it will be flown to Lahore by flight PK 302, the spokesperson said. 
Ghulam Abbas and Hasan Abbas’ bodies will reach Islamabad from Muscat by PIA flight PK 292 at 1:00 p.m., the spokesperson said. 
“All steps have been taken to hand over the bodies of the martyred to their relatives immediately after they return to Pakistan,” the spokesperson said. 
Daesh’s operations have indicated the group is attempting a comeback after it was crushed by a US-led coalition following its occupation of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate.
It also inspired lone-wolf attacks in the West.
Any inroads in Gulf Arab oil producers such as Oman would raise fears in Washington and the region which has long viewed militant groups as a major threat.
Dozens of people at the mosque in Oman were wounded with around 30 people treated at local hospitals, including for gunshot wounds.
Monday evening marked the beginning of Ashura, an annual period of mourning, which many Shia Muslims mark publicly, to commemorate the 7th-century death of Hussain, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). 
The attack was largely unprecedented in Oman, where most of its citizens follow the Ibadi Muslim faith that shares many similarities with mainstream Sunni Islam. Oman has a small but influential Omani Shia population. 
Like other Gulf countries, there is a large and significant foreign workforce in Oman too.
Additional inputs from Reuters


Pakistan’s national airline announces direct Umrah flights from Quetta, Faisalabad to Jeddah

Pakistan’s national airline announces direct Umrah flights from Quetta, Faisalabad to Jeddah
Updated 18 July 2024
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Pakistan’s national airline announces direct Umrah flights from Quetta, Faisalabad to Jeddah

Pakistan’s national airline announces direct Umrah flights from Quetta, Faisalabad to Jeddah
  • Flights from Quetta and Faisalabad to Jeddah to operate twice a week, says Pakistan International Airlines
  • Every year, thousands of Pakistanis travel to Islamic places of worship in Saudi Arabia for Umrah pilgrimage 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s national flag carrier announced on Thursday it would operate direct Umrah flights from the country’s Quetta and Faisalabad cities to Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah in a bid to facilitate pilgrims in the two cities. 
Thousands of Pakistanis travel to Saudi Arabia each month to visit the holy sites in Makkah and Madinah for the Umrah pilgrimage. Umrah is a voluntary Islamic pilgrimage to the Islamic sites in Saudi Arabia. A shorter version of the Hajj, it is voluntary and can be performed throughout the year. 
“PIA has announced direct flights from Quetta and Faisalabad to Jeddah on the strong insistence of pilgrims,” a spokesperson of the airline said in a statement. 
“Direct flights from Faisalabad and Quetta will be operated from August 6.”
The national airline’s spokesperson said two flights each from Quetta and Faisalabad to Jeddah would be operated per week. 
Balochistan Governor Sheikh Jafar Khan Mandokhail thanked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for backing the initiative. 
He said people in Balochistan previously had to travel to Karachi two days in advance to avail a direct Umrah flight to Saudi Arabia. Mandokhail said direct flights from Quetta to Jeddah will facilitate Baloch pilgrims in their travel. 
“And when they [passengers from Balochistan] returned they had to stay for a couple of days in Karachi to wait for a flight or another mode of transportation to return [to Balochistan],” he said.


In effort to combat narcotics, Pakistan to conduct National Drug Survey after 11 years

In effort to combat narcotics, Pakistan to conduct National Drug Survey after 11 years
Updated 18 July 2024
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In effort to combat narcotics, Pakistan to conduct National Drug Survey after 11 years

In effort to combat narcotics, Pakistan to conduct National Drug Survey after 11 years
  • Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi directs authorities to finalize matters related to drug survey within 15 days
  • Survey to include data from homes, educational institutions and slums, says narcotics control ministry 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Thursday approved holding a fresh National Drug Survey after a gap of 11 years, the Ministry of Narcotics Control confirmed, vowing that the exercise would help effectively combat the menace of narcotics across the country. 
Pakistan’s government conducted the last drug survey in 2012-13 which revealed that approximately six percent of the population – or 6.7 million people – had used a substance other than alcohol and tobacco in the preceding year.
The fresh survey will gather reliable information on the extent to which the Pakistani population is using drugs and facing related disorders.
“The National Drug Survey will be conducted in the country after 11 years,” Federal Minister for Narcotics Control and Interior Minister Naqvi was quoted as saying in a statement by the narcotics control ministry.
“It is very important that the drug survey should be comprehensive and accurate.”
The minister tasked authorities to finalize matters related to the survey within 15 days, stressing that data on drug users should be collected from homes, educational institutions and also slums.
Naqvi directed the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to jointly formulate a strategy, including the nature of the data required, the sample format and also the timeline for conducting the survey.
The minister vowed that authorities will not compromise on the issue of drugs as it concerns the nation’s future, adding that comprehensive decision-making related to narcotics would only be possible if the survey results were authentic.
“International development organizations should also be contacted for their cooperation in conducting the survey,” Naqvi was quoted as saying. 
Earlier in March, Pakistan’s Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) said it achieved a “monumental victory” in the battle against drug trafficking by intercepting the largest consignment of methamphetamine, popularly called “ice” in the South Asian country’s history.
ANF and Pakistan Coast Guard personnel have also lost their lives in land and sea operations against narcotics traffickers in numerous operations over the years.


Pakistan arrests nine murder suspects from UAE in joint operation with Interpol

Pakistan arrests nine murder suspects from UAE in joint operation with Interpol
Updated 18 July 2024
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Pakistan arrests nine murder suspects from UAE in joint operation with Interpol

Pakistan arrests nine murder suspects from UAE in joint operation with Interpol
  • FIA has dispatched a local team to the Gulf state to bring back the accused individuals to Pakistan
  • Pakistan’s premier investigation agency says suspects were arrested from different areas of the UAE

ISLAMABAD: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) have arrested nine Pakistani murder suspects from the United Arab Emirates in a joint operation, said an official statement on Thursday.

Interpol, an inter-governmental organization with 196 member countries, facilitates the sharing and accessing of data on crimes and criminals, offering a range of technical and operational support. Each member country hosts an Interpol National Central Bureau, which connects their national law enforcement with other countries and the general secretariat through a secure global police communications network called I-24/7, according to the Interpol website.

“During the special operation, nine suspects wanted in serious crimes were arrested from the UAE,” the FIA said. “The accused persons were arrested due to a joint strategy of Interpol Islamabad and Interpol Abu Dhabi.”

The statement said the suspects wanted by the police in Pakistan’s central Punjab province had cases registered against them under the provisions of attempted murder and murder.

Of these suspects, one was wanted by the Punjab police for 14 years while another was already dead and the rest were living abroad after committing murders, it added.

The FIA said all the murder suspects were arrested from different areas in the UAE, adding a local team had been dispatched to bring back the accused persons to Pakistan where they will be handed to the local Punjab police.

Pakistan’s national investigation agency and Interpol have also collaborated in the past to bring back criminals who had fled the South Asian state to evade arrest.


Omani nationals behind Muscat mosque attack that killed four Pakistanis, police say

Omani nationals behind Muscat mosque attack that killed four Pakistanis, police say
Updated 18 July 2024
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Omani nationals behind Muscat mosque attack that killed four Pakistanis, police say

Omani nationals behind Muscat mosque attack that killed four Pakistanis, police say
  • Police say the three gunmen, who targeted the mosque, were killed after they offered resistance to security personnel
  • Attack claimed by Daesh is viewed as an attempt by the militant group to make a comeback after being crushed by the US

DUBAI: The three gunmen who shot and killed six people at a Shi’ite Muslim mosque in Oman in an attack claimed by Daesh this week were all Omani nationals, police said on Thursday.
The assault began on Monday evening at the Ali bin Abi Talib Mosque in the Wadi Al-Kabir neighborhood of Oman’s capital Muscat as Shi’ite Muslims gathered.
The Royal Oman Police said the three gunmen were brothers and “were killed due to their insistence on resisting security personnel.” It said that police investigations had indicated the three gunmen were “influenced by misguided ideas.”
The six people killed by the gunmen were four Pakistani nationals, an Indian, and a police officer responding to the attack, which Daesh later claimed responsibility for.
Pakistan has labelled the assault a terror attack.
Daesh on Tuesday said that three of its “suicide attackers” fired on worshippers at the mosque on Monday evening and exchanged gunfire with Omani security forces until morning.
The Sunni militant group also published what it said was a video of the attack on its Telegram site. It has claimed responsibility this year for high-profile attacks in Russia and Iran which inflicted mass casualties and is active in Afghanistan. It had not claimed an assault on the Arabian Peninsula for several years until the attack in Oman.
DAESH SEEKS COMEBACK
Its operations have indicated the group is attempting a comeback after it was crushed by a US-led coalition following its occupation of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate.
It also inspired lone-wolf attacks in the West.
Any inroads in Gulf Arab oil producers such as Oman would raise fears in Washington and the region which has long viewed militant Islamist groups as a major threat.
Dozens of people at the mosque in Oman were wounded with around 30 people treated at local hospitals, including for gunshot wounds.
Monday evening marked the beginning of Ashura, an annual period of mourning, which many Shi’ite Muslims mark publicly, to commemorate the 7th century death of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The observation of Ashura has sometimes triggered sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims in some Middle East countries.
The attack was largely unprecedented in Oman, where most of its citizens follow the Ibadi Muslim faith that shares many similarities with mainstream Sunni Islam. Oman has a small but influential Omani Shi’ite population. Like other Gulf countries, there is a large and significant foreign workforce in Oman too.